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Recognizing the faces of MIA during unprecedented times

As Miami International Airport continues to take aggressive measures to ensure the safety of passengers, visitors and staff, customer service excellence remains one of our highest priorities as well. This month, we recognize frontline employees who have provided exceptional service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their actions are part of why MIA was ranked the best mega airport in the eastern U.S. and Florida in the J.D. Power 2020 North American Airport Satisfaction Study SM.

April Employee of the Month: Freddy Mestril, Customer Service Agent (MGS/Delta)

At the end of January, an elderly passenger who suffers from Alzheimer’s and travels with her companion dog faced a difficult situation. She was connecting from one airline to another and couldn’t cover the cost of having the dog travel in the cabin with her.

Freddy Mestril, a Customer Service Agent working at the Delta Air Lines check-in counter, was calming and reassuring when he called the passenger’s family to let them know he would assist her. As boarding time was approaching, he paid the dog’s access fees with only a promise from the family that they would later reimburse him.

The passenger’s granddaughter later wrote, “Freddy is a true ambassador of your organization. The day he helped my grandmother, he became a hero and guardian angel to us. It is not often that one encounters such a caring and compassionate person as Freddy, and we will always be grateful for his kindness.”

May Employee of the Month: Marcela Denis-Perez, Terminal Operations Chief (MDAD)

During the beginning of the pandemic in March, approximately 40 Argentinian passengers were stranded at MIA, including families with young children and a couple with health issues. With the help of Desmond Alufohai, MIA’s Division Director of Protocol and International Affairs, MIA Terminal Operations Division Chief Marcela Denis-Perez contacted the Argentinian consulate general in Miami to arrange hotel accommodations for the group. She ensured the passengers had food and beverages while they waited in the terminal. Later she coordinated their transportation to the hotel with Barbara Carlo, MIA’s Landside Division Director.

Marcela maintained close contact with the group until the consulate was finally able to get the passengers on a humanitarian flight home to Argentina weeks later. “It’s heartwarming to see so many grateful faces. In times of uncertainty, it makes me happy to reunite these passengers with their loved ones back home,” said Marcela.

June Employees of the Month: Maria Torres, Customer Service Manager (American Airlines), Stash Siedlarczyk, Coordinator (American Airlines), Yezenia Mendez (TSA), Andres Romero (TSA), Alejandro Berry (TSA), Tony Roca (TSA), Christine Trenard (TSA)

This group of employees made every possible effort to help two passengers track down and retrieve their missing laptops, which were accidentally switched at the security checkpoint. It took lots of teamwork, coordination and diligence between these employees from American Airlines and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Overall, their efforts demonstrate remarkable and commendable customer service excellence.

July Employees of the Month: Danie Hoff (TSA), Jose Zayas (TSA)

In mid-July, Transportation Security Officer Jose Zayas came across a Haitian passenger who spoke no English and was stranded at MIA. Mr. Zayas contacted Danie Hoff, Supervisory Transportation Security Officer, who was at home on her day off. Ms. Hoff spoke Creole and quickly volunteered to assist. The passenger’s flight from MIA to Lisbon required COVID-19 test results, which he did not have, before he could continue to his final destination of Paris. Together, they helped get the passenger on another flight to Paris without connecting through Lisbon.

August Employee of the Month: Naser Edeeb, Terminal Operations Specialist (MDAD)

Naser Edeeb, a Terminal Operations Specialist, found a passenger at the airport who had been waiting for a wheelchair for more than an hour. Naser immediately got on his radio to check on the status of the wheelchair. He remained with the passenger for a while and then decided to help the passenger walk slowly and carefully towards the wheelchair assembly area. Naser carried the passenger’s carry-on luggage and offered his arm for support. A few minutes later, a wheelchair arrived from the airline and they continued to the wheelchair assembly area.

The passenger sent a note a few months later after the incident, saying, “Just for the record. I don’t know Naser or anyone connected with him. But I do know good customer service when I see it. And I wanted you to know what he did for me… a complete stranger.”

September Employee of the Month: George Valdez (TSA)

George Valdez, a Transportation Security Officer, was at the end of his shift and walking by checkpoint 2 when he came across a limping passenger pushing his wheelchair. Mr. Valdez quickly offered to assist the passenger and wheeled him to gate D4. Once they reached the gate, they met with the passenger’s companion, who had walked ahead to see if the airline boarding agent would wait for them. Thanks to Mr. Valdez, the couple was able to board the flight on time. The passenger later wrote a thank-you note saying, “As he told me, he was raised that way and continuously helps people, not for recognition, but because it is the right thing to do.”

If you receive excellent customer service from an MIA employee, please nominate them so they can have a chance to be named Employee of the Month and potentially, Employee of the Year.